Archive for January, 2005

I’m all reved up to head out to San Diego in a little over a month to go to O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference. I lined up all my various discounts and got Tim to swear to his staff that I’m a faculty member so’s I don’t have to go through the hassle of faxing a bunch of verifications. (Thanks Tim I wasn’t really asking for that but I appreciate it). I got lined up to visit with Cory and with Tim and was chatting with Doc on AIM as I was trying to register at the Westin Hotel where the block of rooms for the conference was supposedly being held til February 18. The big word in the previous sentence is “supposedly.” I got back a message saying the block of rooms was entirely taken! Must be a broken reservation program, says I. I tell Doc who opens another AIM with Sara W of O’Reilly. Who tells us sure enough the conference is filling up fast and the hotel filled even faster!
There is no room for me or for Doc or for anyone registering after today. The good O’Reilly folks were surprised too and promise to have a list of alternative hotels on the website tomorrow.
The question is less whether I’ll be booked in a dive, but whether where ever I stay will have wireless, broadband, or any net.connections. Anyone familiar with the Horton Plaza area in San Diego? Or the Gas Light area?

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There is no end to the reviewing and essaying on Jared Diamond’s new book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
Today’s New York Times Book Review has a lengthy and thoughtful essay by Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook reviews Diamond’s career and touches on his other books including “Guns, Germs and Steel” and “Why is Sex Fun?” The first won Diamond the Pulitzer Prize and the second reflected the serious work that won him the National Medal of Science. Easterbrook is less enthusiastic than say Malcolm Gladwell or Steward Brand and in the end less thoughtful than David Brin.

I’ve written on Collapse and the mania surrounding it here and here and here.

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They did it again! UNC broke 100 points as they delivered a loss to UVa up in Charlottesville today. 110 to 76 but it could have been even more embarassing.

The oustanding question is: Does the Bojangles Two Biscuits for a Dollar deal count for Away Games? Do I have to go to the local Bojangles to find out or will you guys let me know?

Previous teams that gave us Bojangles wins this year were Cleveland State, William and Mary and Maryland.

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Bloglines lets you check to see what others who subscribe to your blog also read through their “related feeds’ feature. Interesting results for each blog and a good way to find new blogs that you might want to read.
Note: I do not have a bloglines account and do not use bloglines for my blog reading. I use Sage.

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What an unexpected epiphany for a late January — Epiphany being officially on the 6th and this being the 29th — to see a tree full of robins just as the storm begins. The tall Savannah Holly was full of berries and was soon full of robins as the snow changed to freezing rain today. As I watched the birds dive into the tree, I noticed one of smaller. Though it shared a red breast with the others in the flock, it was quickly obvious that this was a different bird. Sure enough was it moved about the tree, I could see that it was an Eastern Bluebird.
In some ways seeing the blue bird among the robins should be no surprise since both at thrushes, but in the midst of the ice storm to see a blue bird feeding on red berries, a bright flash of blue among the brown robins (his cousins in red breastedness) — that is something else.

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David McConville forwards Aussie fun had by combining iPod Photos and old school stereoscope. A cute hardware hack to produce 3-D for “the future now.”

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Lulu.com, Bob Young‘s latest venture, has agreed to supply coffee and morning eats for the Triangle Bloggers Conference upcoming on February 12th. Thanks to Stephen Fraser for working on this from the Lulu end.

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Just back from the Scholarly Communications Convocation. A whole day in one building is no fun, but the discussion which followed the lines that I am intensely interested in — open access, new ways of looking at copyright, service to the citizens, digital repositories and digital curation — made it all worthwhile.

Jeff Pomerantz, who was one of the conference organizers, has a summary at his blog. Not sure I agree with everything Jeff says tho ;->

Other SILS folks were very involved. Dean Griffiths as a reporter on the institutional repository session which was facilitated by Gary Marchionini. Much of the discussion involved Helen Tibbo’s ideas about digital curation. Brad Hemminger was there to talk about his experience with digital dissertations and his NeoRef project.

The whole of the faculty was well represented with good folks from many disciplines. Almost all expressed exasperation with commercialization of scholarly publishing and in particular with Reed-Elservier. This should be no surprise, but the extent of the exasperation was much greater than I had thought.

Additionally people seemed genuinely interested in open access and in the Creative Commons licenses in particular. The Science Commons was less well-known but since it was announced officially this month that’s to be expected. The overall good news is that the Commons idea seems to have broad support.

The need for an institutional repository was also widely recognized as a common need and a common good. Moreover the idea of digital curation was easily accepted as an obvious important step.

ibiblio got some very nice attention and props from folks like Vin Stephanitis, Lollie Gasaway, Judith Wagner and others there.
Let’s hope all these good things become action items.

Unfortunately there is a history of hollerin’ and not really acting that goes back over 20 years. Henry H. Barschall published a study called “The Cost-Effectiveness of Physics Journals” in Physics Today’s July 1988 issue (page 56) in which he showed that not-for-profit journals were consistantly a better economic bargin than commercial ones. This resulted in Barschall being sued by Gordon & Breach in a series of lawsuits in the U.S., German, Swiss, and French courts in an attempt to chill the discussion and to discredit him.
A decade later, the US courts finally found in his favor. But Barschall had died 6 months earlier in February 1997.
The University of Wisconsin conducted a 1998 study using Barschall’s methods and found them still to be true.

By the measures employed here, commercially published journals in all three fields [physics, economics, neuroscience] are significantly less cost-effective than journals published by not-for-profit enterprises.

References:

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Among the meetings in yesterday’s meeting-rich day was a send off for Larry Alford who is on his way to Philly. It was wonderful and touching — as is Larry — and made sad only by the feelings of hope and pride combined with a feeling of loss.

The evening began a discussion of Scholarly Publishing at UNC which was in turn kicked off by a talk from CNI‘s Cliff Lynch. We (John, Fred, and Megan) taped the talk and will have it available on ibiblio for streaming in the Speakers section soon.

[more here after a full day of scholarly publishing discussion today]

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John reports that 85% of our content served in response to www.ibiblio.org requests comes from our Squid cache! I knew that static object usage was a large per cent of our business, but 85% is pretty amazing. Thanks Squid. I’m trying not to remember live without you.

Fred has done a little research on tinyurl and has created a tinyurl random results generator. A single click takes you to sites that other folks have refered to using tinyurl. A very interesting diversion and a look into our selective collective mind.

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Old friend, Brewster Kahle, did a recent talk at the Library of Congress which is now online. Brewster is exuberant and ready to digitize the entire Library of Congress using perhaps his 300 page per minute digitizing scanner which is already in use in Toronto. He’s also talking about the Internet Archive’s Bookmoblie which is a print on demand van. Cost per book from the van is about $1. Harvard says it costs $2 per book to loan it. So why not print from the van?
Brewster discusses the problem of books that are out of print but still covered by copyright. These constitute what he calls “orphan” books since you cannot access them in any way.
Brewster is exuberant about the tape-trading groups like eTree.org having offered his “unlimited disk space online forever” to them and to about 700 bands for concert tapes.
A bit about the Archive’s video/music collections and the bandwidth they require. Especially Rick Prellinger’s archive. Rick saw a 40% increase in sales and eventually sold his collection to the Library of Congress after giving away movies on the Archive. Brewster is excited about Lego movies too. Lectures etc.
This is Brewster at his very best. A lot to tell and he tells it well. Each visionary musing is tied to a real ongoing and possibly do-able project at a fairly large and international scale.
The series, which has a link to the talk, is called “Digital Future” will also feature Ed Ayers, Larry Lessig, Brian Cantwell-Smith and others.

Here’s a direct RTSP link to Brewster’s talk.

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Although the Yahoo! Video Search has gotten less press than the more limited Google Video Search, it’s different and better in many ways.
While Google has a very limited number of videos — all from recent Bay Area TV — indexed by transcripts, Yahoo! uses www page contexts and file names (ala Google Image Search) for their database. This means you get a huge collection to search. It also means that you can actually watch the video once you’ve discovered it. With Google, you only get images snapped at about 30 second intervals.
Frankly the two searches attack very different problems. Yahoo! is about resource discovery and not much about the content within the video at any level of granularity. Google is much more about mining the content within a video stream — but mostly by using closed captioning as a transcript (or so it seems).
You can submit your videos to either system. Yahoo! tells you to use RSS enclosures:

Enter the full URL, including the http:// prefix (for example, http://www.yahoo.com/mymedia.xml) of the RSS feed (either with Media RSS or RSS 2.0 enclosures) you would like to submit to Yahoo! Video Search. Dead feeds will be automatically detected and removed on an ongoing basis. For additional information about Media RSS feeds, see the Media RSS specification. Your RSS feed will be crawled soon. After your feed is crawled, please expect a delay before your content will appear in Video Search results

Very cool and very clued.

Google uses only a web-based form for inquiring about adding your collection.

A great benefit of being “Paul Jones” is that you can seek and find many of your name-twins’ videos. All these and more found using Yahoo!’s Video Search.

Google video search for Paul Jones returns nothing.

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McSweeney's 13
Sally Greene writes that the Chris Ware assembled McSweeney’s 13 was just named the Best of the Year’s Comix by Time magazine. The cover, Sally gave me a signed flat frameable version for Christmas since I love the book so much, was already a prize winner at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Ware has been racking up the awards as a writer and as an illustrator having been part of the Whitney Biennial 2002 (thanks to Miles for the Ware History of Art poster from that show) and the winner of the Guardian First Book Award in 2001 for Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth.
from City of Glass
In a related note, I picked up the graphic novel version of Paul Auster‘s City of Glass (as turned into a graphic novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli) today at lunch. The book came out in 1994 or 5 and I’d been meaning to find a copy. To my amazement, there it was in a mall Barnes and Noble’s shop. One copy.

Auster is a very complex character and a great translator. He’s struck me as American and European at the same time. A writer very much of a broad world and of very very modern sensabilities. Art Speiglman’s introduction to the graphic novel quickly convinced me that the book in my hand would be a good introduction albeit slantways into the world Auster.

Folks in the UK will have to wait til next month to get a copy when it’s released by Faber there.

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ibiblio will host author, journalist and blogger Dan Gillmor for a public talk on Valentine’s Day.

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Google just made their video search engine available today. Even though the database is made up only of the past month’s offerings from ABC, PBS, Fox News and C-SPAN, it’s very impressive — and as of this morning very fast.
The results are an image and a snippet of the transcript for each hit.
Downsides include no final video results; you get a 5 image story board with text instead and a small very small database.
Google has a high overview description on the about pages.
The Help/FAQ pages also give you a lot of insight into the transcript-oriented search. Nice features like title: and channel:

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Tom Bowers unearthed this site from Harvard, which aims to test your/our implicit associations concerning gender, race and weight with a simple interactive test. Tom found the site in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine January 23rd. He writes “Its premise is that although many Americans believe they are not prejudiced, a new test provides evidence that they really are.”
I donno. I did pretty well myself. Does this mean I’m “Clear”?

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This book, A Million Random Digits With 100,000 Normal Deviates, is why Amazon’s “search inside the book” feature was invented. A must for those who keep telling me that there really is something to the Davinci Code.

For the more visually oriented, Nassib recommends the Bruce Lee Remixer. You can be master of the Master of Kung-fo with many posibilities as every key on a keyboard becomes active for the remix. Includes mucho audio.

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ibiblio alum, Mark McCarthy, writes from Darfur Sudan where he is the coordinator for the Humanitarian Information Centre in Sudan.
If we are lucky, we’ll get to see Mark and his wife Rathi here in a few months. In the meantime, visit the HIC-Darfur site and see what he’s up to and up against.
Before going to Sudan, Mark and Rathi were working in Rwanda.

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McIver's Moma
Spent too brief a time at Tyndall Galleries for the opening in honor of Beverly McIver’s most recent work. The subject of the show is a celebration of the life of McIver’s mother. McIver’s work has often been self portraits. Earlier as a clown with white face on and more recently in black face. McIver, who is black, has created work that is both beautiful and disturbing or at least shifted from our expectations of what portrait might mean. One of the paintings of her mother shows her in her last days in the intensive care unit. Another shows her mother clapping in delight.
I reget that I missed the gallery talk. I did get to hear others rave about it. McIver, I’m told, talked about her growth as an artist, her relationship with her mother, her new life in Tempe, AZ and more. Having grown up in Greensboro, McIver was surprised to be in an area where there are few other blacks and reflected that experience.

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Having just finished blogging about clarity and handwriting/typing, I picked up the resurrected Oxford American‘s latest issue. Michael Parker has a very very funny story in the form of a student paper called “Hidden Meanings: Treatment of Time, Supreme Irony, and Life Experiences in the Song ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.’” The story isn’t online, but it has already been taken on a kind of “Supreme Irony.”

Parker read the story at a Literary Symposium at East Carolina University this fall. The reporter for the East Carolinian wrote:

[Parker] presented a detailed analysis of a song entitled “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.”

Well, not exactly. Parker is a very good writer writing as a very bad but honest writer who has a lot to say to and about her teacher and much more in the course of the paper. I’m not giving away any secrets when I say that the teacher has been right in saying that the writer “sprawls lacks cohesion or is not well organized.” But that is the point, of course. The story is not just a parody of student writing but a story that sprawls it’s way into a kind of tenderness and honesty and self-revelation that keeps you in sympathy with the writer even as you are laughing out loud.

Any story that begins:

In the song “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman” by Joe Tex, the speaker of narrator fo this song, a man previously injured before the song’s opening chords by a large, aggressive-type woman in a disco-type bar, refuses to bump with the “big fat woman” of the title. In doing so he is merely exercising his right to an injury-free existence thus insuring him the ability to work and provide for him and his family if he has one. I don’t know it doesn’t ever say. In this paper, I will prove there is a hidden meaning that everybody doesn’t get in this popular Song, Saying or Incident from Public Life.

has an awful lot going for it.

UPDATE: Here are the all important lyrics to the Joe Tex song, “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)”

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